One of the places that was high on my list for my time in Donegal was Glenveagh National Park. And it didn’t disappoint.
Ireland has just 6 national parks.
- Killarney National Park
- Connemara National Park
- Wicklow Mountains National Park
- The Burren National Park
- Ballycroy National Park
- Glenveagh National Park
Glenveagh is just a 30-40 minute drive from Dunfanaghy so it’s a great site to take in if you stay in this area. The Derryveagh mountains are in the park and in the surrounding area. And it has a castle with some lovely gardens that you can tour.
Here’s a wonderful thing about Glenveagh:
It’s free. Well it’s free to park and walk the trails. The tour of the castle does cost. €7 for an adult ticket.
I ended up at Glenveagh twice.
The first time I was set on hiking. It’s 4km from the car park to the castle. This is called the Lakeside Walk. Then it’s 3km to a waterfall that slides down out of the mountains.
But the trail continues. So I just kept walking. (I later learned this is called the Glen Walk.)
Not sure. But at least another couple of kilometers. Even though the weather was less than ideal, the glen (valley) was so beautiful that I just kept waking. I wish I could have gone farther. The trail actually goes 8km from the castle.
But I decided to turn around and head back with the intention of doing the castle tour.
But they were sold out for the day.
So I had a spot of tea (there’s a nice tea room for snacks or lunch at the castle) and then walked the 4km back to my car.
A week later I returned.
After walking the 4km from the car park, I decided the castle tour should be done first. And thankfully I was able to get a tour this time.
It’s really a fabulous tour.
The castle was built between 1867 and 1873 by Captain John George Adair who made his money in America. He was a native of County Laois, located in the midlands of Ireland. He and his family lived there for a quite awhile.
Then American Henry Plumer McIlhenny purchased it in 1938. He used it as a part-time residence until 1982 at which time he gave it to Ireland.
The guides tell you all about what life was like then. It’s a stunning location, sitting right on Lough Veagh, surrounded by the Derryveagh Mountains.
But there was no rain the day I took my tour
So I quickly decided to make the walk to the waterfall yet again.
The walk along the lake, Glen Walk, is really beautiful and it’s easy. It’s a wide path, about the width of a one lane narrow road.
If you venture beyond the waterfall, you’ll find yourself in a narrow valley with a stream running through it. I loved this and would go back and go even farther out than I did that first time. The second trip, due to a wee bit of a cold, just took me to the waterfall.
There are a few other walks, one of which is to Lough Inshagh. I so wanted to do this 7km one way trail to this lake. You’ll see the sign for it as you walk to the castle. The turn off for it is about 3km from the car park. Then it’s 7km to the lake and 7km back down then 3km back to your car. So it’s a good trek. It’s on my “next time” list!
While spring was barely springing, I still found Glenveagh to be very picturesque. I can only imagine what it is like when the flowers are in full bloom or in autumn as the golds, reds and oranges light up the landscape.
I don’t think that we…
As Americans (or even Canadians), think about visiting national parks when we go to Europe. I know we are so lucky to have some amazeball parks in the USA and in Canada.
However I’d say to rethink this as Europe as some stunning national parks. I’ve been to or through all the parks now in Ireland and I’d say they’re all spectacular. Glenveagh might top the list, although I also love Connemara.
So if you’re headed to Ireland, especially the Donegal area, be sure to stop by Glenveagh for a good day. Do some walking. Tour the castle. Walk the gardens of the castle (they’re lovely). And have a treat at the castle tea room. It’ll make for a wonderful day!